Israel's Patriot missile defence system downs 'drone' from Syria

Israel has shot down an incoming projectile from Syria over the Golan Heights, as tension between the two countries escalates.

An anonymous defence official said Israel's Patriot missile defence system had hit a drone, but it is unclear whether it was a Russian or a Syrian aircraft.

Hours earlier, Syria's military claimed that Israel had struck a military site near an airport in Damascus, triggering a series of explosions.

Israel has performed missile strikes in the war-torn country before - often with the intent of disrupting weapons transfers to the Hezbollah group in Lebanon.

The country's minister of intelligence did not comment directly on the apparent missile strike, but said: "The incident in Syria corresponds completely with Israel's policy to act to prevent Iran's smuggling of advanced weapons via Syria to Hezbollah."

According to Syrian military defectors, the airport targeted by the strikes plays a major role as a conduit for arms from Iran.

Alongside military planes, a number of commercial cargo aircraft fly from Iran to resupply arms to Hezbollah and other groups - passing through Iraqi airspace.

Russia's foreign ministry has condemned the attack, with the Kremlin calling for restraint.

The Kremlin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said: "We continue to consider that all countries need to refrain from any kind of actions that lead to an increase in tension in this already restive region and call for respect of the sovereignty of Syria."

Syrian president Bashar al Assad is quoted by the state-run SANA news agency as saying that Damascus is in talks with Moscow to buy an anti-missile system which can repel Israeli and American attacks.

Israel and Syria are still technically at war, though the armistice line on the Golan Heights had remained largely quiet for decades until the Syrian conflict began in 2011.

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